Charleston native Shepard Fairey is in the hot seat yet again. The street artist, famous for the Obama “Hope” image, was assaulted at a Copenhagen art opening on Aug. 6. The attackers reportedly called him an “Obama illuminati” and told him to “go back to America.” He suffered a black eye and bruised rib.
The incident wasn’t the first contentious run-in Fairey has experienced in Copenhagen. In July, he and his team started working on a series of seven street murals, including one meant to commemorate the demolition of the legendary Youth House that was sold to a radical Christian group and then demolished. The mural shows a dove flying over the word “peace” and the number 69, the building’s address. In a recent blog post, Fairey says that local media inaccurately suggested he was paid by the city to create the mural, which rubbed many people the wrong way. Several murals were defaced within days of their creation, including the Youth House piece.
As a compromise, Fairey decided to work with the (relocated) Youth House representatives to collaborate on the mural, giving them free reign on the lower third of the wall. A collective called RaxArt created a scene depicting a police riot. After it was completed, it was once again attacked, this time with a fire extinguisher bomb.
“It was clearly a piece about social justice and I find the attack senselessly barbaric,” Fairey wrote in his response. “It’s not the first time I’ve encountered hostilities, but this is one of the most dramatic, and I’d say demoralizing if I even let that possibility exist. I took note long ago listening to Black Flag that it is imperative to RISE ABOVE, so that’s what I’ll continue to do.”